Many companies have toxic cultures, resulting in multiple problems. When the culture in a workplace is toxic, morale can be harmed and turnover rates can dramatically increase. People do not like working in hostile environments. A toxic workplace culture can also lead to poor productivity, profit losses, and potential liability from current and former employees. Employers should carefully examine their cultures and enact changes to improve them. This can reduce their liability risks while also helping to protect employees. Here are six warning signs from the employment lawyers at Swartz Swidler that your work culture might be toxic.
1. Failing to Invest in People
If your company fails to invest in its employees after hiring them, your culture could be at risk. Investing in your employees is also investing in a healthier workplace culture and can lead to improved outcomes. If you do not invest in your employees, they will perceive that they are not valued. This can result in reduced productivity, disengagement, and reductions in work quality. When employees are not valued at scale, companies can be vulnerable to toxicity in their culture. Your company can work with human resources to identify perks and programs to invest in employees. Having a system of rewards and promotions can allow employees to understand their value and encourage them to strive for greater success.
2. Failing to Address Misconduct
Some companies are inconsistent in addressing misconduct. If your company allows certain employees to get away with almost anything while punishing others for similar behavior, employees might not report bad behavior. They might be afraid of reprisals for reporting complaints if they believe that nothing will be done to address the problems. Employers should not allow some employees to get away with misconduct and should instead have a fair, consistent approach to discipline. They also should never retaliate against employees for filing complaints and should instead encourage them to do so when they are the victims of harassment or discrimination or witness it happening in the workplace.
3. Lack of Diversity and Inclusion
Many companies responded to the #MeToo movement by revisiting their policies and establishing councils focused on diversity and inclusion. However, some companies continue to exhibit a lack of diversity and inclusion. Failing to increase diversity and not emphasizing inclusion can quickly result in sexual harassment and discrimination against members of protected groups. Stereotypes, isolation, and harassment lead many employees to leave their jobs.
4. Poor Behavior From Leaders
Many employees take cues from supervisors and others in positions of authority. When people in management or executive positions behave poorly, it places the entire company at risk of developing a toxic environment. Many companies reward executives based on the results they deliver without paying attention to the methods they used to achieve them. High-performing executives might also be excused for poor behavior because the company values their work and doesn’t care about how they act within the workplace environment. Ethical lapses by executives can lead other employees to also adopt unethical practices, leading to increased losses and liabilities.
5. Too Much Pressure
If the environment at your company has too much pressure, its culture can quickly devolve. Companies with high-pressure environments frequently seek growth and profits at the expense of ethics and values. Giving unrealistic deadlines to employees or sales targets that are overly aggressive can cause people to resort to illegal methods to try to deliver. Companies should instead work to defuse some of the pressure they place on employees and emphasize the importance of emotional and physical health and well-being.
6. Unclear Standards for Ethics
A company should have clear ethical standards in place to provide a guide for employees. Employee behavior frequently depends on a company’s values. When the values are not clear, employees might not know the expectations for their conduct within the workplace. Companies can involve employees in helping to create core values to drive shifts in behavior within the workplace. They can then decide how to implement and enforce them to reduce the risks of unethical behavior.
Preventing Toxic Culture
Companies must take time to prevent a problematic culture from developing and be willing to expend the necessary effort. To begin, they must secure a commitment from leadership. When executives are heavily involved in enacting positive changes in the workplace culture, they are likelier to occur.
Companies should then involve representatives from different divisions to help to address cultural issues, including HR professionals, legal counsel, communications team members, risk management leaders, and diversity & inclusion leaders. Members of this group should be responsible for reporting directly to the CEO, and the CEO should be responsible for reporting directly to the board.
Next, the behavioral expectations of the organization should be clearly defined. Your company should assess whether or not your employees understand your values and expectations. You can review your current values and make changes to them if necessary. If your company does not have any defined values, involve employees in creating them.
Workplace culture should also play a role in your annual planning process and strategy development. You should ensure that your company is always guided by its core values when thinking about your objectives.
Talk to the Employment Team at Swartz Swidler
A toxic work environment can quickly cripple a business and lead to legal liability. Companies that allow a toxic culture to flourish will likely experience high turnover rates, profit losses, and other problems. To learn more about how to address a toxic corporate environment, contact Swartz Swidler today at (856) 685-7420.